Family Discipleship: Checklist or Devotion?

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What is your vision for your family’s discipleship? How can you keep devotions from becoming just an item on your to-do list?

If the goal for discipleship is that your children know Jesus and walk with Him, how do you get there?

1. Keep it Simple

We don’t want your family to just go through the motions when it comes to family devotions. Thankfully, it doesn’t take a performing circus in order for your family to experience life transformation through the Bible. Neither does it require a five-inch thick book on systematic theology.

You can make devotions effective and engaging by simply making observations from Scripture and applying those observations to your family. Believe me, this is not a boring process.

2. Give it a Try

Take the story of Babel from Genesis 11:1-9.

Some of Noah’s descendants decided to try to make a name for themselves–they wanted power and fame and so they began building a city and tower. Acting as if they were in control of their lives, the people sought to glorify themselves rather than God. In His mercy, God confused their languages so the people wouldn’t continue in even greater sin. The building of the city and tower had to stop due to the language barriers, and the place was named Babel (meaning “confusion”).

How could you effectively take this story and make it into a devotion time in your family’s life (rather than a reading to-do)? What observations could you make? How do you interpret those observations? How could you apply this passage to your family and help your children get excited about the Bible?

3. Think Ahead

Prep time for devotions doesn’t need to take long, but remember: you can’t give what you don’t have. Make sure you understand the story and what God is communicating through His Word before passing it on to others. Ask Jesus to allow this passage to affect you and draw you nearer to Him.

Get some context for yourself. For this story, try reading the stories from Genesis 8; 10-11:9 beforehand. Then ask some questions about the story and see what you can learn from it yourself.

4. Share God’s Word with Your Family

When you’re ready to share the story with your family, start off with prayer. Ask Jesus to show Himself through His Word and to reach the hearts of those present.

Keep in mind that when you tell the story of the tower of Babel, you will want to provide some context for your family as well, and you may want to simplify some words in the story for the sake of clarity (be sure you’re not changing the meaning). For example, instead of using the term migrated, you might say moved. Or instead of saying dispersed, you could use the words spread out.

You may also want to define a few phrases before you tell the story. What does it mean to make a name for yourself? It means to make yourself powerful and famous. What are bitumen and mortar? They’re ingredients used to make bricks.

Give your family a bit of an introduction to the passage. Sharing the context for the story could include the following:

God had commanded the families of the earth to have many children and spread out over the whole world. One leader during this time was named Nimrod. He became a mighty hunter and ruler over many great cities that he had built. One of these cities was called Babel.

5. Tell the Story

Tell the story of Babel accurately from Genesis 11:1-9. Afterward, you could ask one of the children to volunteer to retell the story, prompting them with the opening line from the passage. Afterwards, try telling the story again, this time leaving gaps for your family to fill in. This way, everyone has heard the story three times and is familiar enough with the story to discuss it together.

6. Make Observations

Don’t give away the observations you’ve already made from this story. Create some space for your family to learn to study God’s Word for themselves. Through the discussion you’ll likely discover even more truths from this story that you didn’t see before. Prompt your family with questions. Here are some ideas:

What might it have been like for the people in this story to have their friends suddenly start speaking in a different language?

When this group of people moved to Shinar, they wanted to build a city so they wouldn’t be spread out over the earth. The people also wanted to build a tower that reached high into the sky so they could become powerful and famous. What might we learn about the people from this?

Who might the people have made a name for instead?

Who do these people seem to think is most important?

How do the people in this story seem to be treating God?

What might we learn about the people’s hearts from the fact that they wanted to make a name only for themselves?

What kind of decisions were the people making?

Who does it seem the people wanted to be in charge of their lives?

What might this tell us about the hearts of the people?

The people didn’t allow God to be in charge of their lives. What happened as a result?

What might have happened if the people continued to live so selfishly together?

God caused the people to speak different languages so they could no longer understand each other and work together in their selfishness. What might God have done differently?

God could have chosen to ignore the people’s bad decisions. What might we learn about God from the fact that He didn’t allow the people to continue together in their selfish actions?

God could have just destroyed the people. What might we learn about God from the fact that he allowed them to live and simply stopped them from their sinful work?

Because the people in this story were acting selfishly, they were working against God. How did that work out for them?

What might have been the result if the people had chosen to let God be in charge of their lives?

7. Apply It

Take an observation you’ve made from the story and begin to apply it to a situation today. For example, one observation your family may have made was that the people of Babel were selfish and wanted to be in control of their own lives. Build some questions off of that observation to help apply it to your lives. The questions below can give you an idea of what that could look like.

Do we see people today who are selfish and want to be in control of their own lives? What might that look like?

How about you? Can you think of an example from your own life when you were selfish and wanted to be in charge of your life? What did that look like?

Is there anything in this story that might help you when you want to be selfish and in charge of your own life?

8. Trust God for the Results

These questions can lead to some great discussion and heart-probing, but remember that life transformation comes from God’s Spirit at work. God says He will honor those who honor Him (1 Sam. 2:30). Trust that as you honor Him through your efforts to disciple your family, He will be at work, even if you can’t see it. Know that He desires your family to walk with Him even more than you do, and trust that He can draw the hearts of your children to be fully devoted to Him.

For more resources on family devotions, check out our new Family Discipleship Curriculum, designed to equip parents to effectively lead their children to know Jesus and walk with Him. Learn more about the Family Discipleship Curriculum and sign up for your FREE one-week trial subscription!

Aubrey De Vries grew up in the Midwest where she learned to tell stories, teach music, and host tea parties. She served with Operation Christmas Child for seven years, working as a recruiter and trainer of volunteer teams. She is a graduate of Ellerslie Discipleship Training, as well as an Assistant Instructor with Simply the Story, a ministry providing tools to experience Scripture through story and discussion. Aubrey currently tutors dyslexic students and serves as the Director of Communications for Heroic Life Discipleship.

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